This is a version of events that ended in a three day camping/hiking trip outside Yuma in the Kofa national wildlife refuge area a few years ago in October. The starry skies I eventually gazed at for hours at night were...well..out of this world.
Not my photo.
It was an unremarkable road, the one I was stranded on. I hadn't seen traffic in a good hour. Dark grayish, the road stretched bare before disappearing around hills a short distance off to either side of where I was standing. As the invisible tendrils of a slight breeze worked its way over me, I consulted a map and realized that I was in the middle of a stretch of road shaped like a lazy lightning bolt. I pondered that for a moment. Was a lighting bolt ever lazy?
It was a clear day. I looked back the way I had come, over and beyond the first hill in the entrance to that ravine, and thought I could barely make out the Sierre Madre hanging in the distance as a single hazy, purple blotch. But the Sierre Madre were in far off Mexico and well beyond Yuma. Maybe it was just some strange effect particular to the desert. I pursed my lips and looked around furtively. No, there were no skeletons, human or animal, lying about.
The hills, for it would be too generous to call them mountains, in my ravine -- my ravine, was it? -- loomed up on either side of the road. They appeared barren and devoid of life. The hillsides glinted here and there. Were those a result of nature's eroding effect on rock, perhaps shale? Was one of those glints an old arrowhead? Or maybe a bullet from the civil war a 150 years ago? There were a few stunted trees sprinkled near the top of the hills. Gnarled and leafless, they looked like they might have been humans strung up on poles to culminate in a soundless and grotesque death. A few of those trees had the odd bird circling over them. The birds seemed motionless in the air. Were they buzzards? I looked around nervously. Time to get movin'.
I got in the car and turned the ignition. The engine started on the first try. Thanking my lucky stars -- and it would be a few more hours before those came out -- I gingerly eased the car out of the narrow shoulder, onto the road and out of serene no man's land.